Tag Archive for alumni publications

Jenkins ’93 Writes Guide for the Francophile and the Anglomaniac

Jessica Kewrin Jenkins '93

In her Encyclopedia of the Exquisite (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday), Jessica Kerwin Jenkins ’93 is inspired by exotic 16th-century encyclopedias, which celebrated mysterious artifacts, with emphasis on the elegant, the rare, the commonplace and the delightful.

Jenkins’s modern-day version combines whimsy and practicality, as it showcases the fine arts and the worlds of fashion, food, travel, home, garden and beauty. In the spirit of renewing old sources of beauty, and using an anecdotal approach, each entry shares engaging stories. Among them: the explosive history of champagne, the art of lounging on a divan, and the thrill of dining alfresco.

The book is a lifestyle guide for the Francophile and the Anglomaniac, the gourmet and the style maven, the armchair traveler and the art-lover. It pays homage to the esoteric world of glamour and luxury but it doesn’t require a lot of money to enjoy.

In her review of the book in The New York Times, Lily Koppel writes that Jenkins’s “encyclopedia is sensual and dainty, arranged alphabetically, with antique-style illustrations to go with entries on diverse and beguiling subjects, among them the color black, Champagne, the Elephantine Colossus (one of several elephant-shaped 19th-century buildings), enthusiasm, frilly lingerie, mouches (fake beauty marks), “Nebula, the Powdered Sugar Princess” (a ballet created by Joseph Cornell), omelets, the Japanese pillowbook, sequins, twilight, weekends and whistling.”

“Jenkins’s wittily curated selection emphasizes the rare and not often considered, with a dash of Julie Andrews’s ‘favorite things’ sensibility. Along the way, tales are told about muses of the marvelous, from Madame de Staël to Yoko Ono.”

Seattle Cartoonist Forney ’89 Contributes to Prize-Winning Book

[Ellen Forney in her studio]

Ellen Forney '89 / Photo by Ellen Dunkel

Ellen Forney ’89 was recently profiled by Tirdad Derakhshani in the Philadelphia Inquirer, who noted the artist’s “65 illustrations, doodlings, comic panels, and assorted visual asides” that play an important and integral part in the National Book Award-winning novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little Brown) by Sherman Alexie.

Over a three-year period, Forney worked closely with Alexie who “gave her freedom to explore and contribute” based on her own inspiration. Forney’s illustrations had to reflect the imagination of the book’s main character, Junior, “who is growing up on a reservation in Washington state, … an aspiring cartoonist who deals with his cultural and racial identity crisis — not to mention puberty — through his art.”

Forney is the author of several books of cartoons and teaches comics and literature courses at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

Book by Stein ’85 Considers the Supreme Court, Sexual Revolution

Book by Marc Stein '85

Historian Marc Stein is the author of the new study Sexual Injustice: Supreme Court Decisions from Griswold to Roe (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

The U.S. Supreme Court of the 1960s and 1970s is typically celebrated by liberals and condemned by conservatives for its rulings on abortion, birth control, and other sexual matters. Stein demonstrates convincingly that both sides have it wrong. Focusing on six major Supreme Court cases, Stein examines more liberal rulings on birth control, abortion, interracial marriage, and obscenity alongside a profoundly conservative ruling on homosexuality in Boutilier.

In the same era in which the Court recognized special marital, reproductive, and heterosexual rights and privileges, it also upheld an immigration statute that classified homosexuals as “psychopathic personalities.” How, then, did Americans come to believe that the Court supported the sexual revolution? Stein shows that a diverse set of influential journalists,

Almond ’88,Tower ’96 in Best American Short Stories

Work by writers Steve Almond ’88 and Wells Tower ’96 have been selected for the recently published The Best American Short Stories 2010 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), edited by fiction writer Richard Russo.

Steve Almond '88

Almond’s story in the collection, “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched,” about a psychoanalyst who plays poker, was published originally in Tin House. The story will appear in his next story collection God Bless America. Almond is the author of two previous story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B. B. Chow, the best-selling Candyfreak, and most recently, the nonfiction book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life.

Wells Tower '96

Wells Tower’s story in the anthology, “Raw Water,” was written for McSweeney’s for an issue of stories set in the year 2024. According to Tower, his work deals with  “a manmade sea gone wrong, and the folks unfortunate enough to live on its shores.” Tower is an accomplished award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer, and his recent story collection, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, received acclaim in both the United States and abroad. Tower was chosen this year by The New Yorker as one of the best “20 Under 40” writers, which honors fiction writers under 40 years of age. He is currently a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center.

The Best American Short Stories 2010 was recently featured in The Boston Globe and The Los Angeles Times.

Lehman ’81 Is New Publisher for Twelve Book Imprint

Susan Lehman ’81

Susan Lehman ’81, a communications executive, editor and lawyer, is the new publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve, a small and respected imprint of Grand Central Publishing. She has worked over the years as media strategist, writer and editor in the realms of magazines, law, television and newspapers. She served as as an editor at Riverhead Books from 2003–2004.

Twelve has published 39 titles, 19 of which have made The New York Times best-seller list, including God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens and War by Sebastian Junger ’84.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Lehman said she hoped to publish books that are “superbly written, have moral clarity, maybe journalistic rigor.”

Thrillers by Cook ’62 Explain Medical Issues in an Entertaining Way

Book by Robin Cook '62

Best-selling author Robin Cook ’62 has just released a new novel, Cure (Putnam), which deals with the problematic intersection of big business and medicine, the cut-throat world of medical patents, and stem cell technology.

Cook recently talked to Reuters about writing and his latest thriller, which is set in Japan and New York:

“I have been interested in stem cell issues from the beginning because it is so important. I became more interested when I saw it was going to get caught up in politics and it put us back about 10 years or so. In 2006 when I saw you could create stem cells without having to use anything to do with embryos I saw that as an immense breakthrough and I have been surprised how little the general public knows about that. Stem cells will revolutionize medicine although it is being pushed back by politics and religion now.”

Books by Roach ’81, Junger ’84 and Wasson ’03 are NY Times Best Sellers

Three acclaimed books by Wesleyan alumni were on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best seller list in August. They include: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach ’81, a detailed, often funny examination of space travel; War by Sebastian Junger ’84, a powerful look at the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan; and Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson ’03, a witty account of the making of the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Fraser ’82: “Our Way of Saying Goodbye”

Author Laura Fraser '82.

Laura Fraser ’82 wrote the May 28 “Modern Love” column for the New York Times. In “Our Way of Saying Goodbye,” Fraser traces the role of the Italian farewell, “ci vediamo,” or, “we’ll see each other” in her long-time, but sporadic, relationship with “The Professor,” her sometimes-married lover.

She writes that earlier on, the words served as affirmation that “he would always stitch in and out of my life, and that this stitching was slowly mending my heart.” Ultimately, it again allowed the lovers to avoid “goodbye,” when he is diagnosed with liver cancer.

Fraser’s memoir on their meeting, An Italian Affair, details the healing that this love provided soon after the end of her 18-month marriage. It was published in 2001. The sequel, detailing her life in the years after their affair finally ends, All Over the Map, was published June 1, 2010.

Wasson ’03 Writes about Audrey Hepburn and the Making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

New book by Sam Wasson '03.

Sam Wasson ‘03 has written a new book,  Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman (HarperCollins), about the making of the beloved 1961 Hollywood classic directed by Blake Edwards and based on the Truman Capote novella. The book was published June 22.

In a recent article about the book in New York magazine, Mary Kaye Schilling writes: “A fascination with fascination is one way of describing Wasson’s interest in a film that not only captures the sedate elegance of a New York long gone, but that continues to entrance as a love story, a style manifesto, and a way to live…Wasson wanted to know the reason for its cultural longevity, and once he started asking, the inevitable answer was Audrey Hepburn. But something about the idolatry bugged him. ‘Hepburn has become a near-saintly figure, untouchable. That didn’t sit well with me. I thought there was a human being there who needed to be looked at.’ “

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, “a single woman with an active sex life,” which “was suddenly a condition to aspire to.” Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to be cast in the film because he thought Monroe

Rudy ’81 Encourages Children with Autism, Families to Explore

Book by Lisa Jo Rudy '81.

Many families with a child with autism or Asperger Syndrome feel that involvement in the community is not for them. In Lisa Jo Rudy’s new book, Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!: How Families of Children With Autism or Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most Out of Community Activities (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, May 2010), Rudy ’81 offers a rich and varied menu of suggestions for how such families can take full part in community life and support the strengths and interests of their child at the same time.

Rudy explains that informal learning experiences can be the key to self-discovery, communication, self-confidence, and even independence for many children on the autism spectrum. This book will open the door to community inclusion, creative exploration, and social learning.

Rudy is the mother of Tom, age 14, diagnosed with PDD-NOS — an autism spectrum disorder. She is also a professional writer, researcher and consultant. Lisa and her videographer/photographer husband, Peter, live in Massachusetts.

Rudy holds a B.A. in the humanities from Wesleyan and a Master ’s Degree in Divinity from Harvard University. She is the author of more than a dozen trade books for children and adults.

The Nobodies Album by Parkhurst ’92 is an Unconventional Mystery

New novel by Carolyn Parkhurst '92.

Carolyn Parkhurst ’92 made a huge splash on the literary scene with her first best-selling novel The Dogs of Babel. She has just published her third novel, The Nobodies Album, and it has already received several positive reviews in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly as well as on NPR.

The protagonist of the novel is Octavia Frost, a famous best-selling novelist who is also known to be unpleasant. As she is about to deliver her latest manuscript to her New York publisher, she finds out her rock star son Milo has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. The book presents the chapters of Frost’s latest book and it also takes her on a journey in San Francisco to find clues about the crime.

In his Washington Post review, Art Taylor writes that The Nobodies Album is “not just a book about a novelist in action, it’s also a meditation on writing itself and on the curious intersections between the imagined world and the real one. … the book succeeds in probing nuanced issues of guilt and innocence through an intricate collage of memories and musings.”

In her survey of summer crime novels for NPR, Maureen Corigan writes: “The great pleasure of reading The Nobodies Album arises out of keeping track of the constantly shifting relationships among a small group of paranoid people quarantined from the rest of society by their fame.”

Maguire ’83: Raising Awareness about Civility

Patrick Maguire '83

Patrick Maguire ’83, a writer and blogger—and a 30-year veteran of the service industry—was highlighted in the Dec. 9 Boston Globe Magazine in an interview about the message behind his site, www.servernotservant.com.

For Globe staffer Jenn Abelson, Maguire outlines the message behind his Boston-based blog, which also serves as a platform to launch his book-in-progress and is gaining some wider media attention. His goal is to increase civility in our day-to-day dealings with each other, in general, and with those who work in service industries, in particular, where people are often treated with little respect. The customer, he says, is not always right, and sometimes deserves to be “fired.”

However, he does not abnegate responsibility for those in the service industry to set a pleasant tone, and he praises the businesses that exhibit great service and hospitality. “Hospitality and service are a mindset and a culture,” he notes.

Maguire says the core message of his book and blog consists of three items:

  • That the customer has almost as much to do with the success of every customer service interaction as the service worker.
  • That the customer, especially the abusive customer, is often dead wrong.
  • That all of us are responsible for serving each other with mutual respect and civility.

To view a pdf of the featured page, see http://www.servernotservant.com/media/.